ESB and Vodafone are to invest €450m in a "100% fibre-to-the-building" broadband network offering speeds from 200 Mbps to 1000 Mbps.
The firms claim it will mean Ireland will become the first country in Europe to use existing electricity infrastructure to deploy fibre directly into homes and businesses, initially reaching 500,000 premises in 50 towns.
The fibre will be located on ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure and, subject to European Commission approval, the service will be available from the start of 2015.
The initial phase of the 50:50 joint venture is expected to be finished by the end of 2018.
All telecoms operators in Ireland will be able to re-sell the fibre product to their customers, helping to stimulate the development of new services and boosting retail competition in the broadband market for all Irish consumers and businesses.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte said: "The National Broadband Plan underlines Government’s commitment to delivering high-speed broadband services to rural Ireland, with fibre as a core element. Complementing Government investment in rural areas, will be commercial investment in more densely populated areas, offering competitive high speed services over multiple technology platforms.
"Today’s announcement by ESB and Vodafone to create a joint venture company to deliver up to one gigabit of broadband speeds in 50 locations nationwide is a very exciting step in ensuring that regional towns can enjoy similar levels of connectivity to our cities, benefiting local business and helping to attract investment."
Little Island, East Cork
Skerries / Rush, Dublin
Swords /Malahide/Portmarnock, Dublin